Editor’s note: When I created this post, the word “gods” in the title was lower case to denote their lesser status. The software I use to produce the post automatically capitalized the word. Rather than search for a fix, I decided to include this disclaimer.Me
Have you ever heard someone say that church is boring? Have you ever been bored during a service? Does it seem like the takeaways from the sermon are usually things that you could do under your own power, but you are encouraged to use God’s power as you navigate the same life as you had before? I don’t need a show of hands.
How about this question? There are accounts in the Bible that seem to never be discussed outside of the instruction of children. The flood comes to mind. So does David meeting Goliath. Daniel in the lion’s den? The closest thing to a superhero is usually Samson, though the lessons rarely discuss his frequent visits to the brothels.
Might it be possible that the children find the church to be boring is because they have more fantastic heroes to watch on the screens available to them all the time? I am not discounting the role of the Holy Spirit to engage the heart of the children. I am wondering if perhaps we are selling both the children and also the adults short here. What if there were fantastical beings in the Bible, beings that are largely misunderstood due to our neglect in teaching about them. And what if even the adults need to be taught from the entire counsel of God’s word? Yes, including the accounts all too often reserved for a children’s class.
So much of the children’s instruction includes decaffeinated versions of Biblical events. So much of the adult’s instruction highlights only practical ways we can approach life from a modernist perspective, soon to be replaced by a post-modernist perspective. The supernatural realm is often ignored, much to our own detriment. Or worse, it is assumed that the classes of supernatural beings are defined by Renaissance-era concepts rather than by the descriptions given in the Bible. We either place too much emphasis on the supernatural forces from a humanist perspective or we disregard it as if there was no cosmic battle for which we are expected to don the appropriate armor.
There is a council of holy ones. This is a council described elsewhere in the Bible, such as in 1 Kings 22:19-23, which was previously mentioned in this series. It can also be found in Daniel 7. Another example is in Psalm 82, which is a frustrating Psalm for me. Not because it is hard to follow but because the most straightforward reading is the one that has never been presented to me. I have heard it preached before with the context ignored though. More on that later. Sneak peak: Sola Scriptura.
If you’ve ever heard the word “elohim” spoken before, it most likely was used to describe God. The one true god. YHWH. Most of the time in the Bible, this is who is being referenced. But there are exceptions to this, and I’ve included a link to the Strong’s reference so you can perform an amateur level amount of research for yourself. Don’t take that wrong. I’m an amateur myself.
Psalm 29:1 Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Elohim is actually a plural word, which is often pointed out when “God created the heavens and the earth” is taught. It points to more than one person doing the creating to show that the trinity can be referenced at the very beginning. I do not dispute that interpretation. The singular word that elohim references is “eloah” which is also used in the Bible to denote God. And it is also used in the Bible to reference other spiritual beings in the singular sense.
Psalm 95:3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
You see, Elohim is used to do more than just name God. It is more of a common noun than a proper noun. It is a classification of being. Other examples of Elohim are the divine beings, human judges set apart by and for God, gods and goddesses, even Moses is said to be like elohim to Aaron. Nowhere is it implied that Aaron was to bow down and worship Moses and that would have been idolatry for Aaron to have done so! Not that Aaron would have ever worshipped anything other than the one true God, but I digress. Getting back on track, Elohim is a category or a descriptor. Most of the time it can be assumed that YHWH is the subject of the sentence, but allowances need to be made for times when other beings that match that description are in focus.
Psalm 89:6-7 For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him?
These spiritual beings are not all the same. There is a hierarchy. At the top level, though below the level of God, are the Divine Council, which are discussed in 1 Kings 22, Daniel 4 and in Revelation 5, just to name a few locations. God ultimately makes decisions, but we see the council sharing in the actions. Sharing ideas, presenting strategies, carrying out actions. The Divine Council is referred to at times as the sons of God. They participate in the ordering of the Universe. As Christians, we are referred to as sons of God as well, regardless of gender. One day, we too will participate in the ordering of the universe, and through prayer and supplication, we already do participate!
Psalm 89:5-7 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him?
There have been quite a few things said in this post. Things that hadn’t been discussed in any church service I ever sat in. Things I had read a few times, but without catching the ramifications. Ultimately, any study of biblical truth only matters if you are able to apply it. Not necessarily that you are able to act upon the information, but that you are able to act in light of that information. If this is true, then there are some takeaways that we can… take away from it.
Deuteronomy 10:17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.
There is a Divine Council. The function of this council is not to help God decide what ought to be done or even to determine how it ought to be carried out. God doesn’t need any assistance. Having said that, there are occasions where God accepts the input of this council. Thus, we can conclude that God has determined that it brings Him more glory when this council is involved. This council also gives us a peek at the intended role that Adam and his descendants were to have played, which is also the role that the people of God are to one day play, interacting directly with God as we play a role in spreading His glory throughout the universe.
God could have created robotic beings and programed us to obey Him, which is the false accusation many make of a Calvinist understanding of soteriology. Not going down that rabbit hole here, though. God accepts the input of the council and one day we will also provide input, all to the glory of God. The Divine Council will be joined by the Family Council. It may not have that title, but that is what we are. We are not to live as trust fund babies. Yes, we are family. We are heirs. We have a role to play. We have a job to do.
Finally, I am not a fan of the name of this chapter. I know where the concept is going, but this chapter doesn’t make the case to name it this way. It serves as an introduction to Elohim as a category, rather than exclusively as a title for God, and numerous examples are shared where the gods are presented as lesser gods before God. Keep in mind that “gods” are most often translated from the category of Elohim. Keeping the translated words clear is important here, as is maintaining enough humility to recognize that your preconceived notions may not be accurate.
In closing, when these concepts were first presented to me a number of years ago, they blew my mind. It was all so foreign to me! Why hadn’t any of this been presented in church? Was it even accurate? To settle my mind, I approached my pastor and he affirmed all that I brought before him. If you are unsure about this, print off this post with the biblical references and take it to your pastor. He may come to similar conclusions that mine did. He may not. I have no business getting in between you and the pastor God placed over you.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.